Stowaway survives 7-hour flight in Boeing 747 landing gear compartment

Masahiro TAKAGI / Wikipedia

A stowaway has been found in a landing gear compartment of a Cargolux Boeing 747 after the aircraft landed in Amsterdam Schiphol airport (AMS). Dutch police have revealed that the man survived. 

The aircraft took off from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB), South Africa, on January 23, 2022, at 19:40 SAST (17:40 GMT), and flew to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), where it landed six hours later.  

Then, the jet took off for AMS, where it spent a further seven hours in the air. It is unclear if the stowaway boarded the plane at Johannesburg or Nairobi.  

Dutch military police tweeted that the man was found in the nose wheel bay of the plane. He was alive and “doing well under the circumstances”. The police transported the man to the hospital.  

It is uncommon for stowaways to survive a flight in the landing gear bay. While relatively easy to access, the bays are unpressurized. At the cruising altitude, the temperature falls below -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit), while the air pressure drops by four-fifths.  

Quite often stowaways lose consciousness and fall out when the aircraft extends the landing gear on its landing approach.  

“This is definitely very unusual that someone was able to survive the cold at such a height – very, very unusual,” a Dutch military police spokesperson told Sky News. 

The police did not disclose any further information about the stowaway.  

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